The totality of the tale wrapped in the jacket of From This Moment On took my breath away. I initially had a difficult time putting pen to paper and wondered what justice I could possibly give to this phenomenal person, artist and story.
From This Moment On is by no means a story of a young Canadian girl born into poverty who gets lucky with a microphone, rises to stardom, lives in a castle and is looking for sympathy as she nurses wounds of betrayal.
Yet From This Moment On is by no means simply another story of the life of a celebrity.
From This Moment On is a story of a young girl who may have been “born into poverty” but where Shania fell into poverty she stood in integrity. Poor in material possessions but rich in resilience, Shania Twain’s depth of understanding at a very early age became (and remains) her number one survival skill.
On August 28, 1965 Shania Twain (named Eileen Regina Edwards) made her struggling debut into the world. In hindsight, it was a moment that seemed to set the stage for what would be years of hardship, heartache and horror. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Doc Delivery had smacked her and yelled “she’s gonna make it”.
By kindergarten, the lessons for Shania inherent in the phrase “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” would be that she needed to be brave and that she loved making music.
But she would soon discover during her first grade show-and-tell debut of Take Me Home Country Roads and being chosen for the choir despite her lack of experience and inappropriate age, that she was cast as an attention-seeking showoff and “being the ‘little singer’ wasn’t so fun.” But Shania confides she “loved music too much to let it discourage her.”
So while most children were playing sports, Shania was playing with her vocals, humming melodies until they tickled her lips and filled her head; an exercise she would later discover was not merely child’s play. And by the age of eight Shania had picked up an acoustic guitar and began putting music and lyrics together.
With 27 BMI Songwriter awards beneath her pick there’s no doubt Shania Twain can tell a story in three minutes. And with worldwide record sales of 75 million plus, there’s no doubt many people find comfort in Shania’s storytelling.
But From This Moment On is storytelling of a different kind. Here Shania takes you from the cold, harsh hands of Canadian winters through the cold, harsh hands of domestic violence and hardship and warms your heart as she cradles you in the comfort of optimism.
She doesn’t just talketh the talk, she walketh the walk.
Rich in captivating detail and conversational tone, Shania shares stories of how “the little house shook when there was a ruckus going on.” She candidly and comically introduces you to her dad’s ingenious invention of a “poor man’s sandwich” carried in a poor man’s lunchbox to school.
Then years later after her career skyrocketed and her marriage fell, Shania shares her longing for the matter-of-fact way she and her mom would sit at the kitchen table talking like friends as her mom shared the anguish in anecdotes such as her Christmas shoplifting story of how “a policeman walked up behind me and said I’d have to bring everything back.”
By the close of Chapter Four I had to close the book … to cry. Not “for” Shania or anything she’d been through but for the overwhelming emotions that came over me of the character traits weaved throughout the pages of this book that are the inherent foundation of what is a remarkable human being.
Never once did Shania whimper, buckle or run from poverty, violence, sexual advances or her roots. Understanding that both her family and life were dysfunctional and riddled with strife, she took nothing for granted and seized every opportunity with gratitude and integrity. She did and does her best to view every change – personal and professional – as an ongoing education.
But the show must go on. And never losing sight of her goal of a music career but suddenly gaining sight of her responsibilities as family caretaker, Shania laid her parents to rest, picked out their headstone and packed her pain, her siblings and her songwriting capabilities and set out on a resilient journey to fulfill her professional dreams while keeping her family and their memories in tact.
To sum up From This Moment On in one sentence is to say it’s a no-holds-barred story of courage, resilience, faith and gratitude sprinkled intermittently with poverty, wealth, stardom and a consistent smell and taste of an afflicted past lingering in the air.
For Shania fans everywhere, your collection is not complete without owning and reading a copy of From This Moment On.
For fans of seeing the cup half full, your cup would runneth over after absorbing From This Moment On.
For Eja, Shania’s son, to be part of such a legacy told in rich, honest, captivating detail from the heart and soul of a woman and mother who would never want you to be left – as she was – with unanswered questions, your blessings are immeasurable.
For Shania Twain, your story, your resilience, your honesty, humility and humor humbles me. May you and your family be strengthened by the reminder in these pages of the power of love that kept you bonded. And may your parents, Sharon and Jerry, beam with pride Together, Forever of who you are, not just what you’ve become. And may you continue to heal, grow and find your voice.
(Book Review Originally Published on July 6, 2011 at Christine McDonald, Author Archive – Country Music Pride